It was but one day, not even 24 little hours thanks to another one of Iceland's many cantankerous volcanoes. At 10.00am yesterday morning, a majestic couple "deplaned" (that's what the American's call disembarking - specifically from a plane) from Air Force One, and picked their way down the blustery steps to be greeted by one grey day alongside Darby O'Gilmore and the little people - complete with windswept ruddiness, frenetic head bobbing, hand grabbing and babbling in tandem.
Then the couple were swept away via helicopter to meet our (thankfully tall) President, to sign the guest book, plant a tree, and meet some children. While still in the Aras, Mr. Obama met with Enda Kenny; their chat was filmed by someone with a very shaky hand and a penchant for cutting their crowns from shot. Following that, Mr. President was presented with a hurley, where upon he jovially bellowed to the assembled press: "If members of Congress aren't behaving, I'll give them a paddle."
Around lunchtime, the cavalcade jaunted off to the US Embassy in Donnybrook, whereupon this well documented bump happened. Barely missing a beat, the Obama's were whisked off to put Moneygall firmly on the map. The President and his First Lady extended their long limbs to touch the assembled crowd, which - as luck would have it - contained a redheaded girl dressed in tartan with some green trim. Then, in true Irish style, the rain burst forth from nowhere; thankfully the party had a planned retreat to Hayes' Bar, where he downed a pint of the black shtuff in double time, before confirming that it tastes like shite in every other country on the planet. He then made a point of paying his tab and moving on to kiss and cuddle several members of his long lost family.
Then it was time for the concert. People had been queuing since early morning, some overnight, and therefore were treated to such Irish follies as a Garda on a loudspeaker, saying "No alcohol allowed" to a crowd of 3000+, waiting to gain entry to College Green. When he was met with a resounding "Boooooooooooo", the Garda on his loudspeaker replied "Lads, this is serious." Indeed it was; Jedward were due to mime and they're very impressionable. As for the rest of the line up; all I can say is thank f*** for Imelda May.
Before introducing the President to the stage, Enda Kenny gave a rousing speech which seemed to last the entire length of an All Ireland GAA match. To quote Brian Dobson, "he's more used to shouting from the back of a lorry in Mayo, straining to be heard." Several hours later, and after much rubbing of the First Lady's arms, Obama -bathed in the evening sunlight - got to address the crowd...
"My name is Barack Obama, of the Moneygall Obamas. I've come home to find the apostrophe we lost somewhere along the way." His speech touched off many subjects. He recounted the time he insisted on being part of the Chicago St Patrick's Day Parade, only to be last in line - just a few paces in front of the "garbage" men cleaning up: "That was pretty depressing. But I bet the organisers of that Parade are looking at this today and are feeling a little foolish." He also spoke about the passing of Garret Fitzgerald, the Peace Process, and the ties between Ireland and the US, closing with "This little country that inspired the biggest things - your best days are still ahead of you... just say 'Is féidir linn'."
And, as if that weren't enough, he took to the crowd, shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for photographs for all and sundry. He cradled a redheaded child who'd crowd surfed from God knows where, before taking an outstretched mobile to talk to someone's mother - despite his assembled secret service staff regarding the phone as if it were a live grenade.
All in all, it was a magical day... In the words of a fit-to-burst Kenny, "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that Ireland is a place where all things are possible ... today is your answer."
For our extensive College Green photos, including shots of the crowd, the acts and Obama's speech, please make your way in an orderly fashion to Caught Out.